By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Gheranda Samhita, GheraNDa SamhitA, Gheranda Samhitaa
Significance of Haṭhayoga
Haṭhayoga is an important aspect of yogic discipline. Rājayoga deals with disciplining the mind, Haṭhayoga concentrates on purifying and disciplining the body through āsanas, mudrās and prāṇāyāmas. The Gheranda Samhitā is one of the two important texts of Haṭhayoga. The other section is Hathayogapradīpikā.
Gheraṇḍa Samhitā comprises of 350 ślokas or verses spread over seven chapters. It is in the form of a dialogue between Caṇḍakāpāli and his preceptor, the sage Gheraṇḍa.
This chapter has 49 ślokas which deals with ṣaṭkarmas or the six purification exercises like dhauti, basti and so on. These processes are explained in detail.
It has 45 ślokas which delineates the various yogāsanas. These yogāsanas are 32 in total which includes padmāsana, dhanurāsana, śalabhāsana, bhujaṅgāsana and others.
This chapter is the biggest with 100 ślokas. It explains 30 mudrās like mahāmudrā, nabhomudrā, āmbhasī- mudrā and others.
This chapter is the shortest which consists of only seven verses. It deals with pratyā-hārayoga, the art of withdrawing the mind from all factors that disturb yoga or concentration and meditation.
This section comprises of 96 verses. It deals with prāṇāyāma or the control of the prāṇic energy through breath-control. A variety of exercises like kumbhaka and bhastrikā are described. It also lays stress on the quality of food that a yogi can take and its regulation.
It has only 22 verses. It is concerned with dhyānayoga or the yoga of meditation. It gives a few varieties of dhyāna with some practical instructions.
It is made of 23 verses which describes a few types of samādhi like dhyānayogasamādhi and nādayoga-samādhi.
Significance of Samādhi
Once samādhi is attained, the yogi does not have rebirth. He attains emancipation. The various exercises described in this work must be practiced only under the direct guidance and supervision of an expert in the field.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore